Boost for Khawaja as he returns to Australia squad
USMAN Khawaja may get a chance to reclaim his international place after being named in Australia's squad for the second Test against Sri Lanka, starting on Boxing Day.
His chances of playing seem to rest on how quickly skipper Michael Clarke can recover from the hamstring injury he suffered in the first Test in Tasmania this week.
Khawaja, who had spells with Derbyshire in the last two seasons and celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday, earned his call-up after scoring 438 Sheffield Shield runs at 39.81 for Queensland this season and 56 as captain of the Chairman's XI side which faced Sri Lanka a fortnight ago in Canberra.
The left-hander's record in six Tests shows a modest 263 runs at 29.22 and it is understood the national panel wanted to see Khawaja bat and field with more intensity and urgency in matches.
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Clarke, in prolific form, said he expects to recover from the hamstring strain in time for the Melbourne Test but gave Khawaja a vote of confidence if he is called on to deputise.
"I haven't been following Queensland's games, so I haven't watched too much of Usman batting," Clarke said.
"At the end of the day, if you are putting numbers on the board, you are going a long way to being in line to be selected for Australia.
"Hopefully, he continues to improve in the areas John (Inverarity, national selector) wanted him to improve in. The only reason Inver would be saying that stuff is to help him become a better player.
"He is obviously playing some really good cricket and what a great opportunity to come into the squad for Boxing Day. He might get an opportunity."
Inverarity said Khawaja had earned the right to return to the national team after scoring in testing conditions in the Shield.
"Usman has been in good form this season. He has played especially well on occasions when conditions for batting have been very difficult," Inverarity said.